The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is, likely, the most well-known version of the Bible in print today. This translation has withstood the test of time having been originally translated in 1611. Although the KJV translators sought after a word-for-word translation, they also recognized that the people needed to be able to read and understand the content. The result is a beautifully poetic, easy to memorize text that even today continues to hold fast in many hearts. Though language has changed over the last 400 years, many readers today still find the KJV an easy to read, easy to understand translation. The King James preface declares itself to be a translation which “openeth the window to let in the light.”
King James produced a set of 15 rules to guide the translators in order to keep the translators’ own personal biases from affecting the translation. The translators were instructed to use earlier English texts (ie. Tyndale’s translation) as well as many Jewish commentaries to aid in their own translating efforts.
The majority of the King James Bible is translated word-for-word from the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts available at the time. In the cases in which there is no word in the Hebrew or Greek to make the statement readable in English the translators were allowed to add a word or two in order to make it readable. This addition was added in a different font to ensure the reader understands that the text was not in the available manuscripts. This is most common with the indefinite articles “a” and “an” as the original Hebrew does not contain the indefinite article, and in many cases the original Greek does not utilize it as it is unnecessary for the Greek reader.
Reading level: 12th Grade